Are you facing an increase in insurance premiums? Struggling to find a policy to cover your next sailing adventure? Katy Stickland investigates
Yacht insurers are predicting that over the next three years the cost of premiums for UK yacht insurance could rise by at least 30%.
Those wanting to race regularly, or sail further afield across the Atlantic to the Caribbean can also expect to pay much higher premiums, and it is unlikely that blue water cruisers will get named storm cover.
A number of factors are being blamed for the hike including years of low premiums as a result of increased competition brought about by investment in the insurance market and Lloyd’s of London syndicates. This resulted in premiums falling to unprofitable and unsustainable levels.
The 2017 Caribbean hurricanes – Harvey, Irma and Maria – have also contributed to the premium rises, with Lloyd’s reporting billions of pounds in losses.
There have also been a number of other expensive claims.
A senior yacht and marine trade underwriter for insurers MS Amlin, Keith Lovett, said the market was beginning to correct itself, with the number of syndicates underwriting yacht insurance in the Lloyd’s Markets reducing significantly.
Lovett believes most boat owners can expect at least around a 10% rise in their insurance costs in 2019, if not more.
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‘Those at the safer end of the market, like narrowboat owners and those who sail infrequently, might expect a 10% rise in premiums each year for the next three years. Those at the higher risk end, such as sailors who want to sail solo across the English Channel, do more racing or more ocean passages, should expect to pay more to do those things,’ he explained to YM.
He added that levels of cover were generally expected to remain the same, but limitations may well exist again at what could be perceived the high risk element of the yacht insurance market.
He added there is no reason for claims levels, types or payments to change although the growing threat of global warming may, if anything, increase the number of losses.
Lovett said he expected the cost of premiums for high-end race boats such as IMOCAS and Maxis could be prohibitive for some sponsors, with many opting to self-insure.
In the UK, there is no legal requirement to insure your boat, although most marinas and harbour and river authorities demand liability insurance from customers, and Lovett predicted an increase in this part of the market.
Insurance brokers A-Plan believes boat owners will now have to look ‘more carefully’ to find the right policy.
‘Instead of the premium being favourable towards the client we are seeing a harder market where the insurer will say take it or leave it,’ stated A-Plan’s marine trade manager, Malcolm Stewart.
He is recommending that sailors seek advice on increasing their excess as a way to keep premiums low and if they are considering third party only policies.
Uninsured boats could also become an increasing issue.
‘There will be a lot of people who are not going to take out insurance as they won’t be able to afford the premiums,’ stated Stewart.
‘The problem with this is that insurance companies will end up being the evil villains in this when they take people to court recouping costs on behalf of their correctly insured clients,’ he added.
This extra litigation would also add to the costs faced by insurers, which inevitably would be passed onto the customer.